I spent much of yesterday writing and revising our protocols and procedures for a safe reopening of our campus. Reopening isn't exactly the correct term. We're having some students come back to do lab work. We've looked for ways to minimize the need to do that: many of our students will be doing simulations as we explore ways to do labs from a distance. Some lab information can be done virtually.
There's been some insistence about what cannot be done virtually. I'm the administrator several levels removed from the classroom/discipline, so I have tried to let faculty and Program chairs make the decisions about what can be done virtually and what must be done face to face. I have encouraged everyone to think about other options, and I've reminded us all (perhaps tiresomely) about the dangers of being together in the same room. We will practice social distancing, but that's not as safe as staying home.
Today one of our tasks will be to prepare the campus physically. That means moving chairs out of classrooms and putting down tape on the floors where the remaining chairs should stay. We will put tape down on the floors, even though we don't expect students to be lined up in hallways. We will keep the student breakroom locked when students are on campus; students will need to come in, do their labs, and leave. If they need to eat, they're safer eating in their cars.
Some part of my heart is breaking over these developments. We've done so much to make the campus a hospitable place, and now we have to abandon it. I know that safety from contagion is a different kind of hospitality, but I would rather attend to the kind of hospitality that involves baked goods. Sigh.
So, today I will wear clothes suitable for taping the floors: another chapter that doesn't appear in my edition of Dressed for Success. What is the proper sartorial choice for a business setting when one will be moving furniture? I will wear jeans and sneakers and a sleeveless mock turtleneck so that I can bend over without giving it much thought.
As we prepare, I will pray. That, too, is a different kind of hospitality. I will pray for the safety of us all, I will pray that we can prepare students for their futures without jeopardizing their health, I will pray for those of us who will need patience as we oversee these protocols--and I will pray that our students will understand the necessity for these protocols.
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